Going Back to Basic Niceties
We first learned how to communicate when we were kids. Our conversations revolved around requesting adults to do things for us that we couldn’t do ourselves. They satisfied our basic needs and helped us survive in a world that wouldn’t grant us any authority until we were much older. We learned to communicate in a way that got us what we wanted: Ask nicely and someone will give you a ride to school. Be well-behaved and maybe you’ll get ice cream after dinner. Take out the trash with a smile and you’ll get a pat on the back for having a good attitude while doing chores. When we were younger our communication skills centered on an end-game mentality—we wanted acceptance and needed guidance.
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As adults, we relish our independence. We take charge of ourselves and don’t ask others for help with our basic needs. We don’t require the same degree of recognition from others to get through our days. If we want to eat ice cream for breakfast, we can; there’s no one to stop us. However, this shift brings with it a lack of focus on communicating for the purpose of getting along with others—even if they have nothing we want. Let’s bring the focus back to practicing kind communication. Here are six ways to improve your communication skills!
1. Read Books
Books—even from many decades ago—paint a picture of how the world used to be. When it comes to communication, one could argue that due to the nonexistence of texting, and the existence of more face-to-face conversations, the way we used to communicate in the past was better than how we communicate now. So pick up an old book and pay attention to how the characters interact with each other. Listen to their voices and think about how their communication skills could be applied to your life. Were they more respectful back then? Did they miss opportunities to grow?
2. Speak to Children
The wisdom of a child will help you connect to a purer form of communication. Pay attention to how they talk to each other and how they talk to adults. Focus on how they ask for what they want. Does it remind you of your younger self? Are there aspects of your personality that you lost and want to bring back?
3. Watch Foreign Films
You can learn a lot from observing how people from different cultures interact with each other. Do they speak in a fashion that you find more polite and caring? Are they more straightforward or less direct? Do they consider the feelings of those around them more than you’re used to doing? A glimpse into another culture may beg you to rethink your communication identity. Learning something new about someone else helps you see yourself more clearly.
4. Read Over Old Text Messages
Tone is so hard to gauge over text. Try and read your texts from another perspective. Examine your word choice without the sound of your voice to influence it. Are you coming across in the way you intend? Do you ever regret what you say? Do you feel like your writing is more clear and concise than your speaking? Use past regrets to forge a new you! Or you can identify your areas of strength when communicating. Just know that we must be self-aware and examine our past foibles.
5. Get a Massage
A massage is a silent activity that benefits your mental and emotional health. It’s also a great way to improve your body language communication. Don’t speak for an hour or more. Instead, listen to your body and focus on yourself as a feeling being. Take some quiet time to reconnect with yourself and listen to your own voice.
6. Shoot a Video of Yourself Talking About Your Passions
Whether it’s a hobby or your pets, talk about something you’re passionate about. Then speak honestly about what makes you angry. Take note of your expressions, tones, and body language to see how you may come across to others when excited, sad, or furious. What might someone on the receiving end of your discourse say about your communication style?
Know that you choose whether or not to evolve or devolve your communication style. Try going back to basics to relearn some essential communication techniques. This should initiate a kind of growth you you haven’t experienced in a while. When you feel like you know how to interact with others better, you’ll forge more powerful relationships with everyone, including yourself!